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The wheres and hows of raising chickens determined

By Ginna Young

It was agreed at a prior meeting, to allow chickens in Cornell, in areas of the city that are not zoned agricultural, with the details still to be decided. The Planning Commission met Oct. 20, to draft an ordinance determining guidelines for keeping poultry.

Those present for the meeting referenced several ordinances on the matter, paying close attention to neighboring Eau Claire’s wording. The commission agreed there needs to be a fee charged for the right to have chickens in the city.

According to Eau Claire’s ordinance, they require a $90 license and an inspection fee is $95.

“Which seems awfully high to me,” said Cornell mayor/ commission chair Mark Larson.

David Shipley, Cornell resident and potential chicken owner, says the higher fees ensure people are serious and mean to take care of the birds.

“So it becomes an investment,” said commission member Aimee Korger.

Cornell’s building inspector will conduct the property/ coop inspection, but Larson said he feels the fees should be $25 for the license and inspection. The other commission members stayed with their opinion that the fees should be higher.

Korger pointed out that not all animals are well taken care of, so a higher fee may convince people to watch over their pets better. The commission agreed the initial license would be $50, with renewal of $25, while inspections are $50.

Phylicia Smith, commission member, said the license renewal date should be set, so people know when they need to pay the next year’s fee. After discussing the matter, it was agreed that a license has an annual renewal the first of January, valid until the end of December that year.

It was also agreed that the property where the chickens are kept, should be inspected every other year.

Once the finance part was taken care of, the commission got down to the business of how many birds a homeowner can have and what accommodations will look like.

The idea had been tossed around, that six chickens would be the limit in the city.

“Isn’t that kind of what we talked about?” asked commission member John Smith.

Members agreed and said there will be no roosters kept, only hens. Residents can keep full-grown hens or chicks that are purchased/gifted, and must be raised for egg production, to keep as pets, for showing or raising for 4-H projects.

“If you end up with a rooster (from chicks), you have to get rid of that rooster (re-home it),” said Shipley.

It was also decided that a square foot per chicken, would be a good size living space. Shipley says dirt is not recommended, as the chickens scratch and dig. Concrete should not be used, because it wears down their claws.

The coop or pen should also be enclosed, whether by fence or netting, as the birds may try an escape attempt. Shipley says the birds can’t fly far, but it’s not always easy to catch them.

“They’re like little T-Rexes, it’s crazy,” he said.

Members also decreed that the coop/pen must be 10 feet from the adjoining lot line and 25 feet from any adjacent structures.

After the details were ironed out, members had no timeline as to when the ordinance will officially be passed, as it still has to be sent to the city attorney for approval, before coming back to be voted on.

“It’ll be awhile,” said Larson.